Laine Nooney Sierra On-Line collection Edit


Finding Aid Author
Robert Ramos
Finding Aid Date
23 May 2016
Description Rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


  • 1983-1993, 2015 (Creation)
  • 1986-1991 (Creation)


  • 0.75 Linear Feet (Whole)
  • 0.371 Megabytes (Whole)

Agent Links



  • Abstract

    The Laine Nooney Sierra On-Line collection is a compilation of company documents, game maps, game pitches, game codes, art, photographs, slides, and temporarily restricted oral histories from past employees of Sierra On-Line. Laine Nooney, games historian and post-doctorate researcher at New York University, collected these in the course of her research.

  • Language

    The materials in this collection contain mostly English, with one item containing Japanese.

  • Conditions Governing Access

    The oral history transcriptions which are part of this collection will not be available for public use until June 2021.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though the donor has not transferred intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) to The Strong, she has given permission for The Strong to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.

  • Custodial History

    The Laine Nooney Sierra On-Line collection was donated to The Strong in January 2015 as a gift from Laine Nooney. The papers were accessioned by The Strong under Object ID 115.85 and were received from Nooney in one box. Nooney sent transcriptions of oral histories to The Strong in 2016; additional restricted oral history transcriptions are expected to arrive in 2016.

  • Preferred citation for publication

    Laine Nooney Sierra On-Line collection, Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong

  • Processed by

    Robert Ramos, February 2016

  • Revision Note

    The oral history transcriptions in this collection were restricted in May 2016, with a tentative release date set for June 2021. [Julia Novakovic, May 2016]

  • Historical Note

    Laine Nooney is a video games historian and post-doctorate researcher at New York University. She is also an Assistant Professor of Digital Media at the Georgia Institute of Technology. During the course of her research, Nooney conducted oral histories with past employees of Sierra On-Line in 2014, while also acquiring the archival materials which comprise this collection.

    On-Line Systems was founded in 1979 by Ken and Roberta Williams, later adopting the name Sierra On-Line in 1982. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Sierra released many significant games that changed the way home computers entertained the public, such as King’s Quest and Police Quest. In 1991, Sierra began The ImagiNation Network, a hub for online gamers to connect, play, chat, and post with one another, revolutionizing the home gaming experience well before massive online multiplayer games existed. In 1996, Sierra On-Line was sold to CUC International for a price of $1.5 billion, and a year later, Ken and Roberta Williams left the company.

    CUC International then merged with HFS Incorporated in 1997, forming the Cendant Corporation. During the following years, Sierra On-Line restructured itself multiple times to adapt its focus to the consumer gaming market, while also ceasing to be a developer of games and becoming a publisher of games. Eventually Sierra was taken under Vivendi Games, which then merged with Activision to form Activision Blizzard, which is the current parent company of Sierra Entertainment today. Sierra is now responsible for reviving older games of Activision Blizzard, while also working on smaller projects.

  • Collection Scope and Content Note

    This collection contains historic archival materials from former employees of Sierra On-Line, as well as temporarily restricted transcripts of oral histories of former employees of Sierra On-Line. Document types include production schedules, publicity information, game proposals, quality assurance programming charts, slides, and other internal documentation relating to Sierra On-Line. The archival materials were the property of Jim Walls, designer of the game Police Quest, and Dale Carlson, a former Sierra executive; the majority of materials belonged to Carlson. The bulk of the archival materials are dated between 1986 and 1991.

    The Laine Nooney Sierra On-Line collection is arranged into three series, two of which have been further divided into subseries, with one of those subseries even further divided into sub-subseries. Physical items in this collection are housed in two archival document boxes and one oversized folder. Digital items are located on the internal network of The Strong.

  • System of Arrangement

    Series I: Jim Walls items, 1987-1993

    Series II: Dale Carlson items, c.1980s-1992

    Subseries A: Company documents, 1983-1991
    1: Production Q&A
    2: Financial papers
    3: Company manuals/plans
    4: Company correspondence
    5: Miscellaneous
    Subseries B: In-game maps, c.1980s
    Subseries C: Game pitches/synopses, 1988-1991
    Subseries D: Game code printouts, 1984-1989
    Subseries E: Art/promotional material, 1989-1991
    Subseries F: Photographs/slides, 1987-1990
    Subseries G: Products/inserts, 1986-1992

    Series III: Oral history transcriptions, 2015

  • Related Materials

    The Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play also houses the Ken and Roberta Williams’ Sierra On-Line collection, a compilation of corporate records, publicity, financial reports, game catalogs, newsletters, magazines, published books and other materials from Sierra On-Line. Additionally, the materials on loan to The Strong supplement that collection with original script ideas, notes, planning information, sketches, and other game design-related papers.

External Documents


  • Type
    Container 1 Type
    Container 1 Indicator
    Container 1 Barcode
    Laine Nooney Sierra On-Line collection
  • Type
    Container 1 Type
    Container 1 Indicator
    Oversized Folder 1
    Container 1 Barcode
    Laine Nooney Sierra On-Line collection OS F1